What Are Digestive Enzymes And Digestive Enzyme Supplements

Believe it or not, but your digestive system and gut are the control center of your body. Digestive enzymes are produced and secreted by your gastrointestinal (GI) system to degrade and metabolize macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat, to then absorb nutrients and fuel thousands of metabolic reactions. Supplementation with digestive enzymes, has become an increasingly popular therapeutic treatment to help reduce inflammation, bloat, and improve digestive and gut health. We’re going to talk more about what digestive enzymes are, how they work, and why you need them.

What Are Digestive Enzymes 

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring proteins produced by your body, to help absorb and digest food. Several types of digestive enzymes are released and secreted, starting with the saliva in your mouth to your small intestine and pancreas. The pancreas is considered the epicenter where most of your digestive enzymes are produced. The primary purpose of digestive enzymes is to aid and support digestion.

Types Of Digestive Enzymes

There are several different types of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. A variety of health conditions, that affect the pancreas can lead to deficiencies in the production of digestive enzymes, which can create malabsorption and nutrient deficiency.  

  • Amylase – an enzyme secreted in the mouth and pancreas which breaks down carbohydrates.
  • Maltase – created by the small intestine to break down maltose or malt sugar into glucose for energy.
  • Lactase – An enzyme that breaks down lactose and is a sugar found in dairy products. It converts lactose into glucose and galactose. Lactose that is not absorbed is fermented by the gut which can cause bloating and gas.
  • Lipase – Lipase breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
  • Proteases -  these are digestive enzymes that break down protein into amino acids. Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate adds protease as well as papain from papaya to encourage enhanced protein digestion.
  • Sucrase – secreted by the small intestine, sucrase breaks down sugar or sucrose (table sugar) into fructose and glucose.

How Do Digestive Enzymes Supplements Work

When the pancreas cannot sufficiently produce digestive enzymes, you cannot affectively break down food into functional nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition, as well as bloating, cramping, and inflammation. 

Supplementation can aid in auto-immune disorders such as lactose intolerance and cystic fibrosis which are characterized by malabsorption.

Starting in the mouth through saliva and working through the gastrointestinal system, digestive enzymes break down food into smaller molecules such as sugars or amino acids. Hydrochloric acid found and produced in the stomach sterilizes foods and breaks down macronutrients activating digestive enzymes in the stomach. As food passes through the small intestine, the pancreas releases several digestive enzymes to process food, in addition to bicarbonate, as the gall bladder releases bile into the small intestine. Bicarbonate neutralizes stomach acid, creating a neutral environment, deactivating stomach enzymes and activating the enzymes in the intestine.

Digestive Enzymes Found In Food

Many foods contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes, which can aid in digestion. Papaya, pineapple, kiwi, ginger, bananas, and mangos, all contain proteases that break down protein, such as papain, amylase, and bromelain. Avocado contains lipase, which breaks down fat. Adding more of these foods, can help in supporting healthy digestion.

Symptoms of Digestive Enzyme Inefficiency

If you experience digestive issues such as regularly occurring cramps, bloating, diarrhea, gas, oily stools, or rapid weight loss, you could have a digestive enzyme inefficiency. This of course can lead to severe malabsorption and nutrient deficiency.

Supplementation with specific digestive enzymes, or a mix of digestive enzymes can help improve overall absorption, to further inhibit malnutrition. 

Digestive Enzymes: Takeaway

Your gut and digestive health are crucial to overall well-being and vitality. Digestive enzyme inefficiency can lead to unwanted symptoms such as gas, bloating, inflammation, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Supplementing or adding in key fruit and vegetables, can help aid in better digestion and support a healthy gut.  


The Swole Kitchen provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself. We teach you how to enjoy the foods you love in the right amounts, so you can fit into your favorite pair of jeans, hit your health and fitness goals, and be healthy and happy. We guide you through making sound nutritional decisions and teach you along the way, so you can learn how to take control of your health, and discover what if feels like to live again.

THE SWOLE KITCHEN provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself.

We believe nutrition should be simplified and delicious. We give you the tools you’ve been missing to anticipate and meet your needs on a daily basis. Discover what if feels like to truly love your body and your life with personalized 1:1 nutrition coaching.

Tags: Nutrition